The client, excited to get started on blog content together, had a running list of topics for me to cover.
But then something strange happened.
When I asked for background information on their content objectives (like potential CTAs, a list of targeted SEO keywords, etc.), I got this response:
“We don’t really have that stuff yet. We’re just kind of ‘winging it’ for now.”
For me, this was a major red flag.
This statement meant I’d need to pump the brakes and help the client get a few preliminary goals in place before I could dive into any project work.
The reason: Without them, we’d both be spinning our wheels and wasting each other’s time.
What happens when you don’t set business goals for content?
Too many times, I’ve tried to go along with the “just winging it” approach.
The problem is:
With no business goals in place, the content doesn’t do anything worthwhile for the client — and it makes me look bad. It makes me look like I don’t know how to do my job as a writer and experienced content marketer, despite the client’s wishes to “play it by ear.”
In my experience, without clear business goals for content, the writer has a much harder job as he tries to execute valuable, results-producing material.
Without any benchmarks to measure success, it’s extremely difficult to measure what’s working and what’s not — and there are no metrics to inform future decisions about topics, formats, etc.
At the same time, the business’s marketing budget gets squandered on lackluster content — and the content manager starts to get frustrated that there are no meaningful results to share with the leadership team. It’s lose-lose all around.
Why business goals matter when it comes to content
At the heart of “winging it,” there’s a major problem: It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks. You’re 100 percent guessing at what to try (which rarely produces solid results.)
Business goals matter for content creation because they help make each post part of a larger, big-picture strategy.
When you have a plan in place and measurable objectives around the content you create, you can choose topics to write about in a much more strategic way.
It also allows content to complement other marketing efforts, like SEO and social media ads.
For the writer, objectives provide valuable direction for the pieces they’re creating — and it helps them write for highly specific people who are most likely to convert into customers for the business.
It also helps the writer create a more effective CTA, so the reader can take the next logical step in the customer journey.
In short, business goals are the foundation of any solid content creation effort — and over time, they help marketers build effective campaigns.
How to connect content and business goals
Now that we understand the importance of business goals, let’s look next at how they can be connected to content.
- Prioritize the objectives that matter most for the business
Step one is to think long and hard about which results matter most for the business when it comes to content.
Is it email signups? Free trial signups? Define your most important potential outcomes, and then prioritize your list.
- Consider what your audience wants/needs
You’ll never know what your readers want from you unless you ask.
Use surveys, customer service insights, and data around your site queries to see what your visitors want and need more information about.
- Create a list of content topics that address both areas
From there, create a running list of topics that can both help you accomplish your most important goals and answer common audience questions.
Cross-reference your list of topics with your SEO or ad teams to see how this list can work alongside their efforts.
- Set SMART goals to measure success/failure
SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals help you accurately measure the success of your content efforts.
Create benchmarks that help you see what’s working (and what’s not) — and document those outcomes for future reference.
- Let the data inform future content strategy
Based on the data and findings you gather, prioritize your content moving forward.
See if there are specific formats or topics that perform best (and then keep going in that direction).
Establish your objectives today
Without business goals connected to content, you’re likely wasting both time and money. Be sure that the materials you create consistently produce results and drive the business forward.
If you need to push pause on content creation for a while and take time to establish those objectives, do that.
Give yourself permission to add the structures, benchmarks, and parameters that will improve your content marketing.
Whatever you do, don’t “wing it.”